Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Tantrums and Throwing Fits

It's here definitely.  We are on the terrible two phase.  It has started a little early actually... the intensity gradually levels up and right now we are at the peak level of the phase.

She easily gets so frustrated whenever she can't verbalize what she wants or what she feels or if she can have something her way.  One second she's this very sweet little happy angel and the next second, she's like a little angry monster throwing fits.

She has learned the word no for as early as I can't remember but at this moment, her no is a big NO! with the index finger pointing upward in a very snappy way.  Eyebrows crossing.  Eyes stern.  Yeah, she got the attitude.  Don't ask where she got that.

She has also started the twisting and back-arching and diving on the floor and punching and kicking and yelling and sometimes nail scratching when you try to force her to calm down.  She'd want everything on her sight to go away.  Go away, chair! Go away boots! Go away, jacket!  Go away, doll!  Just go away all!

What's even more frustrating is that sometimes we can't understand what has caused her to suddenly throw into some big fits.  She'd try to tell us but she still lack words for all the big emotions she's going through so all the more that she'd get frustrated. 

It is a difficult moment but what I have learned and still trying to learn is to accept the situation and not get frustrated myself.   I've tried different ways to help her calm down but most often than not, it'll be just in vein.  One day, when she had one of these moments at my in-law's house, my inlaw tried to help in calming her down.  She tried to "correct" LSP's attitude by telling her that LSP is being bad and that good kids don't throw themselves on the floor and cry out loud.  She was also telling her that she doesn't like bad kids.  Of course she's saying all these in all her good intentions to help and somehow to "discipline".

While I understand how people can tag this kind of behavior as "bad" behavior, I do not share this connotation.   I am not an expert on child psychology so I will just speak for our LSP being her mom.  At barely 2 years old,  our Little Spanish Pinay is growing up so fast.  Her mind makes her want to explore on so many things; learn; express emotions and ideas and yes, opinions too, why not.  But her words and ways are still too limited and it frustrates her.  Whenever she experiences a lot of excitements learning new things, wanting things,  she gets overwhelmed and couldn't process the tons of emotions she's feeling.  And when she can't get through to adults, she falls into fits.  At this age, I don't think she is doing this because she just wants to get her way. It's not bad behavior. It's the only way she can vent out whatever frustrations she is having because of incapacity to communicate well and/or incapacity to understand the amount of emotions she's dealing with.

What she needs is not discipline.  During this sensitive moments, what she needs is help.  Help in sorting out her feelings.  Find the words to express her frustrations, understand what has caused this and understand that she's not alone in dealing with all these.

I am neither saying that she'd be let alone when she's having the fits or give in to what she wants even if it's something dangerous or is not good for her.  This one, will just eventually (especially when she's already in an older age) help her develop the bad habit of throwing herself into fits if something is not going her way and that is not what we are going for.  There are things that no matter how much she'd cry for, we can't just give in to her but it's also not just about saying NO and that's it.

What I have learned to help her somehow slow down on her tantrums and eventually overcome it is by trying to help her verbalize what she's feeling or going through by telling her things such as:  "You are upset, aren't you?".  "That socket looks really interesting but it's dangerous and you can get hurt.  You don't want to get hurt, do you?".  "It's been a long day, isn't it? You've played a lot, you ran around, you've met a lot of children and now, you are tired. It's normal you get so tired and sleepy after all those activities!"

Normaly when we start to "re-live" all the activities that she has done for the day especially the ones that were really interesting for her, she'd start to calm down and would join in on remembering the fun things that happened.  It's not an easy road though, and it's really a challenge not to get frustrated nor raise my voice while I try to calm her down by talking to her and then she'd fight back with an even louder cry.  But it pays off.  The storm would calm down.  Then it's time for even more hugs and kisses again.

This is also a difficult time for her as much as for hubby and I and  we'd really like to let her know that inspite of this ugly phase she's going through, we'll still be here for her and we love her just the same.   There will be no "I don't like you anymore because you've been bad or you're acting bad!".   Instead, "We're here and we'll help you go through this rough road."

15 comments:

  1. ahhh... been there! hahaha... i used to also dislike it when i hear the word "bad" being uttered about my son/s behaviour especially when they are just being and acting their age. i made sure that i talked a lot to my firstborn so that it is MY perspective that he sees and not others. i can't control theirs, anyway. best of luck!

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    1. That is so true... we don't have control about people's perspective and people would always have something to say or comment about someone else's parenting... but we should just focus on our own and how our little ones should see this and the ones of others :)

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  2. Lhot, though I'm not a mother yet, I feel your pain hehehe! My nephew, Datu, was an angel his first 2 years, and now he's a little menace! It's really true what they say about Terrible Two!

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    1. It can really be frustrating Dianne! I hope Datu is passed this stage already.

      Spanish Pinay

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  3. I remember when I was a nanny going through this! That was tough because ultimately their parents have the final say in parenting. I'm sure you're doing a great job. Your daughter seems wonderful!

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    1. Thanks, Daisy. It can be daunting.. I am so looking forward that she'd get passed this stage already :-D

      Spanish Pinay

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  4. Every one who has had a two year old, understands what you are going through. It is very difficult when you realize that if LSP could verbalize, perhaps she could tell you: I am tired, please take me to my nap or I am thirsty, I need a sip of water or I would like to have the puzzle I played with yesterday or I am hungry, but I want bananas not apples.

    Each parent finds his or her own ways of dealing with this stage...and it sounds like you and your husband are extremely loving...that is wonderful.

    Can I suggest 2 things? The first is distraction...at this age, as you already know, they are so distractible...you say you talk with her about things she did during the day that she enjoyed...and this distracts her. Sometimes just saying, in a really surprised and amazed voice..."Oh look...that bird in that tree is singing a song to the sun!" or some such comment...and picking the child up, quickly walk over to the window and continue the amazed conversation about the bird or whatever.

    Does LSP have a set routine or schedule during the day...does she nap morning and afternoon...or just one nap? Sometimes making sure a little one has had sufficient sleep and is not overtired can be a big help. I know it is hard to be consistent...as you said, there are some things you wouldn't "give in to" (like if she wanted to run out in the street by herself, or touch a hot stove or play with an electrical cord). But children are very smart and observant...they will see what you are willing to be lenient with and what you won't. Perhaps you feel badly to say NO to so many things...but remember, you are the parents...you are "in charge"...and LSP will love and respect you even if you say NO to things that she thinks she wants. But it is for you and your husband to decide what rules to set and how important it is for LSP to follow them...or not. :)

    It is definitely difficult when grandparents interfere...it is hard for them not to. :) But again, you and your husband are the parents...the grandparents had their chance already. :) Now they can just enjoy the loving and giving...and shouldn't be worrying about the discipline and behavior. :)

    I hope I haven't spoken out of turn...but I do know how frustrating this stage can be. I agree with Daisy, it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job!

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    1. Vivian! You don't know how much I appreciat your comment. I even got a little bit emotional, silly me. I do notice that she can get distracted easily so we try that a lot... but sometimes she has such a sharp memory and after getting distracted she'd remember the thing that made her throw fits a while ago. It's really challenging but I get a lot of ideas from parents like you and that we know this too shall pass :)

      Thank you so much again for your very insightful comment.

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  5. Just a thought...I did a post about a year ago on 3 quick fixes for avoiding temper tantrums: http://viviankirkfield.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/temper-tantrums-3-winning-solutions/
    Take a look. :)

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  6. I remember my mom use to "discipline" me the same way as your in-laws. I am no expert but i've taken a few child development classes and you are right. Children don't know any better and its up to the adult to help them communicate. I really like your parenting style, I think your daughter will learn to use her words at the tantrums will pass. I think you are doing a great job!

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    1. Thanks, sweet Mayra. I often doubt myself but just gotta move forward and follow my child's lead and our own instinct as parents :)

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  7. Good luck! I'm sure you'll all get through it intact. =)

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  8. It's rough being a 2yr old trying to figure life out... it's rough being a parent trying to figure life out... life is rough, isn't it?! but we all get through it - even though it may seem far away... but as you say, there is a calm to the storm. you have a great attitude! hang in there and good luck! :)

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